Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Date published: 1866

Summary (taken from Wordsworth blurb):
Crime and Punishment is one of the greatest and most readable novels ever written. From the beginning we are locked into the frenzied consciousness of Raskolnikov who, against his better instincts, is inexorably drawn to commit a brutal double murder. From that moment on, we share his conflicting feelings of self-loathing and pride, of contempt for and need of others, and of terrible despair and hope of redemption: and, in a remarkable transformation of the detective novel, we follow his agonised efforts to probe and confront both his own motives for, and the consequences of, his crime. The result is a tragic novel built out of a series of supremely dramatic scenes that illuminate the eternal conflicts at the heart of human existence: most especially our desire for self-expression and self-fulfillment, as against the constraints of morality and human laws; and our agonised awareness of the world’s harsh injustices and of our own mortality, as against the mysteries of divine justice and immortality.

I found this book quite enjoyable, if somewhat tough going. I wouldn’t call it ‘one of the most readable novels ever written’. It took me a while to read because I just couldn’t get into it and kept re-reading the same sentences over and over. I don’t know how much of this could be attributed to the book though, and how much was a result of outside influences and distractions. I think this is a book that would get better with repeated readings, which I fully intend to do, once I’ve knocked quite a few more books off my TBR pile. I occasionally got confused with the Russian characters’ names, with each going by different names. Luckily Wordsworth had kindly put a list of characters at the beginning of the book which I could refer to.

I know it may seem that I haven’t really wrapped this book up, but I would highly recommend reading it; the thought processes and actions of Raskolnikov are fascinating to witness as he wanders around St Petersburg. I was really interested to see how it would end, and it was a book that stayed with me after I had finished it. I think, looking back on it almost a month later, that I can appreciate it much more than I probably did while reading it. I’m very glad I put in the effort.

Rating: 8/10

Review by Kylie

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